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SkiCatTX

SkiCat's WaterBox 10 aka “Pinky’s Reef”

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I recently set up my smallest tank yet, a Waterbox CUBE 10. It was a bit of a forced situation, as I needed a place to house my purpleback pseudochromis while I am in the early stages of my 180 dream tank build.

 

WaterBox CUBE 10

 

Some will say this is too small a tank for him, but "Pinky", as my daughter calls him (he's not pink, go figure, maybe pinky finger sized?), is a mean and hardy little bastard. He has been the sole fish in my JBJ 29 cube for 4 years, as he killed any other fish that I have tried to pair with him in that tank. He even bites at me when I have to work in the tank! But I need that tank to house other fish so he had to go somewhere...

 

Pinky

 

He has been in the WB10 now for about 2 weeks and seems to be doing fine. He is eating well, doesn't seem to be fretting or swimming along the tank sides, but just hangs out in his sand hole or hovers around staring menacingly at anyone he can see and begs for food…quite a character!

 

I probably could have just grabbed a cheap tank and set it up for him, but I rarely do things halfway, so I figured I'd try my hand a smaller nano reef tank with (most) all of the trimmings of a larger tank. The only major exception so far is the light. While the A80 is a fine nano/pico light, it's a bit under powered at 15w, and I very much don't like the excessive shimmer. However, my preference of a Radion xr15 with a diffusion kit would cost more than my entire setup so far…so for now I'll just make do. Maybe when I'm setting up my small QT tanks for the 180, I'll use the A80 there and get a better light for the WB10. Fortunately, I have specimens of everything in the WB10 also in the JBJ29 under a Radion XR30Gen3, so I can compare and if anything looks to be unhappy I can move it back under the Radion.

 

I am certainly interested in constructive thoughts and opinions. Please let me know if you have specific questions, or suggestions for improvements.

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While my primary impetus for starting this tank was that I had fish going into my JBJ29 and I needed a place for "Pinky" to hang out in while I plan my 180 build, I decided to turn this into an experimental high-end pico reef.

 

Also, after quite a bit of research on the latest pico tech, pumps, skimmers, filter methods, etc., I decided (after having a few AC voltage leaks into my tanks over the years from bad equipment and stray voltages that mess with probes), that this tank was gong to be TOTALLY DC, absolutely NO AC CABLES going into the tank. Well, I have so far nearly achieved this goal, as the Cobalt heater is AC, so far I know of no DC powered heaters for aquariums (Do let me know if you know of such a device). Otherwise, the 1K, the MightJet, and the skimmer that I'm looking at are all DC low voltage. Even the A80 is DC, even though it doesn't actually touch the water.

 

Here is what equipment I have in or on the tank so far:

  • Cobalt 31000 Neo-Therm Heater 25w
  • Innovative Marine Mighty Jet DC Nano Return Pump (modified to fit in the 3"x3" return)
  • Kessil A80 Tuna Blue LED (with Apex cable connected to my main tank Apex classic)
  • IceCap 1k Gyre Pump (1 gyre blade installed)
  • byCollar aFan air cooler
  • DIY Plastic Egg Crate painted black as jump cover

 

Considering Next Additions:

  • Innovative Marine HydroFill Ti ATO
  • Innovative Marine NuvoSkim DC Protein Skimmer
  • IceCap 1k Gyre matching blade for reverse flow

 

Inhabitants (selected from my 12 year old JBJ29):

  • Purpleback Pseudochromis
  • Green Candy Cane
  • Green Hammer
  • Green Frogspawn
  • Several cuttings of Finger? Leather
  • One Duncan polyp
  • Green Mushrooms
  • Several tiny red Mushrooms
  • Several small snails and hermits
  • Random assortment of tiny feather worms, polyps, and other hitchhikers
    • On 3 small pieces of live rock moved from the JBJ29

With the small A80 light, I'll be watching the corals closely, but so far I haven't seen any difference since they have been in the WB10. Also, after 2 weeks, and a couple 50% water changes with water directly from the JBJ29, I have no measurable Phosphate or Nitrate in the tank, only a completely normal small bit of green algae growth on the glass. I have been gradually increasing daily feedings of frozen brine shrimp for the fish and tiny amounts of Reef-Roids and Coral Frenzy, I mean a tiny pinch dissolved in tank water.

 

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Nice little setup!

 

How do you like the MightyJet? Considering one for my WaterBox 20, as the adjustability will allow me to dial in the chamber water level more. 

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Thats a sweet tank!! Looks great; super slick and simple. 

 

From what I know, the Hydrofill ATO is not the most well-rated ATO on the market. Given you will be going to an 180 gallon, I would recommend getting a Tunze Osmulator. It has an optical eye, a float switch cutoff/alarm, as well as software based cutoffs. Its top notch; everyone that has one loves it. Given your focus on DC equipment, I figure avoiding floods would also a primary goal! 

 

The new Duetto ATO seems nice, with dual optical sensors and "intelligent" software to prevent running dry/floods. I personally prefer having a physical float switch to a second optical sensor. 

 


Oh and welcome to Nano-reef! 

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The Buildout: Setup

Going back to the beginning, I got the tank just before the holidays, in the middle of all the shipping madness, so it took a few days for all the various packages to arrive. I set it up originally with the stock return pump, since I had to modify the MightyJet to fit in the return chamber (unfortunately I didn't get pictures of those modifications, so maybe I'll grab some the next time I clean the tank or when I install the skimmer later this month. Basically I sawed off the top threaded section and glued on a right angle nipple meant for sprinklers. Now it fits in vertically, but it works…). Then installed the NeoTherm heater in the center chamber, and added some new clean aragonite sand.

 

To avoid any significant cycling, I filled a mesh bag with fully cycled ceramic bio media cubes taken from the JBJ29 (adding another bag of brand new Seachem Matrix) and put them in the first chamber, then filled the WB10 with water from the JBJ29 as well.

 

That setup ran overnight, then I installed the A80 light and the modified MightyJet return pump. After verifying the light worked, doing a 50% water change with additional tank water, and testing the temperature, salinity, etc. I moved over a few small pieces of live rock and various coral cuttings and let those settle another day. Finally, I did another 50% water change (water tested fine, but you can never be too careful, and with this tiny tank it's just a few gallons of water), moved "Pinky" the Pseudochromis over to the new tank. I would have liked to wait a week or two, but after 3 days he finally went into the soda bottle fish trap and I wasn't sure if I'd ever catch him again if I let him go in the 29…

 

Anyway, all has turned out OK so far. He is well and adjusting to his new surroundings. He did hide under the rock for a full week, which worried me. But I read all over that this is not unusual for this kind of fish and they eventually come out…which he did and now he's back to his normal behavior. Once he finished building his house in the sand under the rock, which now has two doors by the way, he seems happy.

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5 minutes ago, shaner014 said:

Nice little setup!

 

How do you like the MightyJet? Considering one for my WaterBox 20, as the adjustability will allow me to dial in the chamber water level more. 

I like it, I wouldn't recommend it for the 10 since I had to cut it up to get it to fit, but I suspect it would be fine in the 20. It is completely silent. The controller is nice and simple, just 1-9 power setting and feeding mode which times out after some minutes and turns back on (found that out right away when I actually forgot to turn it on...). There are a couple different models, so I'd get the largest that will fit in your chamber. You can always turn it down, but would need a new pump for more flow...

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11 minutes ago, HarryPotter said:

From what I know, the Hydrofill ATO is not the most well-rated ATO on the market. Given you will be going to an 180 gallon, I would recommend getting a Tunze Osmulator. It has an optical eye, a float switch cutoff/alarm, as well as software based cutoffs. Its top notch; everyone that has one loves it. Given your focus on DC equipment, I figure avoiding floods would also a primary goal! 

 

The new Duetto ATO seems nice, with dual optical sensors and "intelligent" software to prevent running dry/floods. I personally prefer having a physical float switch to a second optical sensor. 

Yeah, that bothers me, as does the giant metal sensors, but the Hydrofill is $69. I could buy two of them for the cost of most ATOs, and 3 for the cost of the Osmolator. Also, I will likely want several of these in order to run this tank and at least two small QT tanks that I plan to get shortly. That adds up. I was also considering the AutoAqua SmartATO, but 3 of those again would more than $400...

 

I have a Neptune PMUP on the JBJ29 that I may use with the 180. That's been working great, and can send me a text when I need to fill the reservoir.

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8 minutes ago, SkiCatTX said:

 Yeah, that bothers me, as does the giant metal sensors, but the Hydrofill is $69. I could buy two of them for the cost of most ATOs, and 3 for the cost of the Osmolator. Also, I will likely want several of these in order to run this tank and at least two small QT tanks that I plan to get shortly. That adds up. I was also considering the AutoAqua SmartATO, but 3 of those again would more than $400...

  

I have a Neptune PMUP on the JBJ29 that I may use with the 180. That's been working great, and can send me a text when I need to fill the reservoir.


Ahh I misinterpreted the end goal- I thought you were getting everything to the eventual 180, I did not know about quarantines and such. Makes sense! 

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Sounds like a great setup... how do you like the icecap 1k? Is there to much flow with only running one side as I am thinking of getting one for my Biocube 16

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The Buildout: Circulation

 

After a few days researching power heads and wave makers I decided on an IceCap 1K Gyre with a single blade installed, though I'm considering getting another matching blade for reverse flow.

 

I didn't realize initially that each blade is scooped so can only move water when spinning in one direction. When it spins backwards it just stirs up water, it doesn't create a flow like it does in the forward direction. Gyre pumps only do both directions by installing one side backwards from the other…so in one direction one set generates flow, then when the motor runs in the reverse direction, only the other blade generates flow. Normally you install one A and one B blade, but if you install two A blades or two B blades at the same time, you get reversible, but at half the flow rate. Anyway, IceCap has a video on the 3K and explains this…(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpuE40bZnGY)

 

So far the pump is great with just one blade installed, though I can only run it at 20-30% before it will start rearranging the sand bed. At night I have it pulsing at 10% every 4 seconds or so, and during the day alternating at 20% forward and 100% backward (since it just stirs water and no gyre flow backwards) at a 2s forward, 4s off, 2s backward, and 2s off, repeat. I will probably play with that but it works for now and the corals seem fine with it.

 

As for the sound, it is dead silent when running forward at low speeds, I can only tell it's on because of the flow against the far side of the tank. But in reverse it is quite loud at almost any speed, especially 100%, I'm hoping this is just the turbulent flow, and would be less if I have the reverse blade installed, but we'll see. I have also read it gets quieter after it has a good coat of slime on it, maybe a few weeks. I'll follow up if anything changes.

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On 1/8/2019 at 10:40 AM, mpekoske said:

Sounds like a great setup... how do you like the icecap 1k? Is there to much flow with only running one side as I am thinking of getting one for my Biocube 16

hehe, I was just preparing my post on the 1k as I saw your question. I do like the pump overall, especially for a smaller tank since it comes with the controller where you can set a different flow for every 5 minutes throughout the day. The original MaxSpec Gyres are more expensive, and you still have to buy a controller separately on top of that, even if you are going to control it with an Apex.

 

I plan to order a matching blade set next week so I can do alternating flow. I'll post again after I see how that works. I also might go get a small amount of larger sand. Currently I have 1-3mm or so aragonite, but that tends to build up over a day or so. So perhaps I'll pour a bit of larger sand on the places where the holes are so I can increase flow just a bit...

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Quick tank pic

 

Pinky WB10

Starting to see a bit of brown here and there, especially in the low flow areas. Probably feeding a bit too much, will do a water change and test here shortly. I also want to move the rocks around a bit maybe this weekend to get everyone properly oriented under the light.

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Beautiful tank, just ordered the 20.  How far do you have the mightyjet turned up?  Looking at it for myself.  I think the next size up actually wouldn't fit. 

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19 hours ago, Seanano said:

Beautiful tank, just ordered the 20.  How far do you have the mightyjet turned up?  Looking at it for myself.  I think the next size up actually wouldn't fit. 

I have it all the way up. I think the stock 1/4" (or maybe smaller) return nozzle is cutting the flow. Without that the water sprays much harder. I have ordered a 1/2" LocLine nozzle, which I hope I can rig up...I'll have to drill the return hole larger...

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I have also ordered the AutoAqua Smart ATO and IM NuvoSkim DC nano skimmer.

 

On the ATO, I guess I wasn't looking closely, but it turns out the Hydrofill pump and controller are only sold separately, more than doubling the apparent cost (what a scam), which makes it more than the Smart ATO...So that defeats the whole point of considering that one. I'll go with the top rated one that everyone seems to love...

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Some new toys came in this week. I'll be working on these this weekend!

 

NuvoSkimSmart ATO

Gyre Bladeset

 

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Also, heard nothing but great things about this guy, hoping it works as well as everyone says. I'm quite tired of trying to read my old handheld refractometer...and adjusting it...

 

IMG_6182.thumb.jpeg.12102d1a0fd5968998e4c7fec5a78287.jpeg

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And this one, for a future refugium project. Santa Monica GEM5 LED grow lights, fully submersible.

 

GEM5

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Nice stuff man! I’ve had the Milwaukee in the past and loved it. Pick up some 3ml pipettes from amazon. Also had the Smart ATO before, works perfect. Clean the sensor periodically of salt creep and mineral build-up and it won’t let ya down.

 

I just got the new DC MightyJet from IM and am super impressed so far, I think they have taken a big step forward in quality. 

 

Enjoy the projects! 

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Return Upgrade

 

After upgrading to the MightyJet 326 return pump, I didn't get the flow that I had wanted. The pump was clearly moving water, but after pushing it through the tiny stock return nozzle, it lost most of it's power. I could barely feel the water coming out into the tank. I decided that I would install a 1/2" Loc-Line bulkhead, probably overkill for a tank this size, but at least I would have options, and flow would certainly not be an issue.

 

Check out the original return, with a US quarter next to it for scale. It is probably still difficult to get a feel for just how small this thing is...

 

WB10 Return Nozzle

 

The first step, which I performed a few weeks ago when I set up the tank was to modify the outlet of the pump in order to fit it into the return chamber of the tank. I had to cut off the threaded return, then I epoxied a 1/2" garden sprinkler hose barb. Not the prettiest thing ever, but does the job. The pump slides right in vertically like this and runs completely silently.

 

MightyJet DC

 

Next I had to drill the acrylic return hole. Since I didn't want to empty the tank to do this, I needed a way to drill with water still in the tank, without getting acrylic dust into the water. For That I went to a local hobby store and got some non-drying modeling clay, cut a couple Solo cups, and applied the clay to the top around the rim. Once I lowered the tank and sump water a bit and dried the surface, the clay stuck perfectly to the tank.

 

DrillPrep

 

Solo Cups

 

Ready to Drill

 

Notice that tiny hole...

 

This worked amazingly well, I wasn't sure that the clay would hold, but it did fine. I used a 3/4" diamond bit, dribbled water slowly, and it went through pretty easily. A light filing to smooth it out and that was it. I used some paper towels to get the water and dust up, then pulled it all out together with the cups. I did end up getting a tiny bit of shavings in the water (not good), but it mostly floated so I was able to sift them out with some paper towels, then drained a few gallons of additional water out of the sump and the tank, aiming for any visible specs, for good measure.

 

After installing the pump, new 1/2" tubing, a female threaded sprinkler barb, and the bulkhead, I added new saltwater back, then turned on the pump, taking care to set it to the lowest flow setting.

 

Loc-Line Bulkhead

 

Night and day difference! With the old return tubing and nozzle, I was running the pump at its full setting and barely getting water. Now, at the lowest setting, the water flows so fast, it comes over 2/3 of the way up on the return slots. I was a little worried about overflow if the slots get blocked, but you'll notice that the AIO sump is slightly lower than the sides of the tank, so any overflow would first run over the top into the sump area before spilling. Also, there isn't enough water in the return chamber to actually fill the tank above that point, so the pump would run dry before spilling as well.

 

I also added a flow spinner Loc-Line nozzle, though I'll probably replace that with a standard spread nozzle or something else...at least I have choices now!

 

Nozzle

 

Return Slots

 

It's been running for 24 hours with no issues, so I am certainly happy with this modification.

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NuvoSkim DC Desktop

 

I decided to try the NuvoSkim DC after reading several great reviews, and of course my desire to run DC only in the tank as much as possible. 

 

It was super easy to install, as it was mostly assembled out of the box. I just needed to attach the air tube and silencer on the top. Also, the needle wheel pump had come loose, so I had to put that back in, but it basically just attaches to the bottom of the air tube and pushes up into the bottom of the skimmer body.

 

The skimmer fits just fine into the center chamber itself. However, with the magnet from the Gyre pump as well as the gooseneck mount for the light, it was a pretty tight squeeze getting it in.

 

nuvoskim dc

 

For height, I rested it on top of a bag of ceramic media that was already in that chamber. That's probably not ideal, since the bubbles from the skimmer, plus more highly aerated water flowing through the media isn't conducive to anaerobic bacteria. However, I do have more media in the first chamber, and a decent amount of rock in the tank, so hopefully that will be OK.

 

Also, it does fit in the first chamber on the left as well, so I may swap it out a some point. I want to try a tiny refugium at some point and would prefer that be after the skimmer...

 

Nuvoskim dc

 

Here it is with my DIY egg-crate cover.

 

The machine is totally quiet too. After maybe 30 minutes of light humming, which concerned me at first, it quieted down. Now I have to hold my head right over the tank and concentrate to hear it at all. It's a pretty impressive little machine. 

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IceCap 1k Gyre Pump Alternating Flow

 

After installing the matching blade and cage for the 1k, I decided to move the pump to the back. I didn't like how it looked right up close to the front glass. On the back it is a bit more visible when down low looking straight at the tank, but when standing in the room viewing it from above it is hidden. Also, the flow, even at 10-20% is almost too much for this small tank...at least with the size sand I have in there currently. I was able to get the flow adjusted a little better from the back as well.

 

Here's a somewhat crappy picture of the tank with the changes.

 

WB10 Gyre

 

In forward flow, the blade on the right pushes water across the top (you can see the rise in the water) and down the front glass. In reverse flow, the blade on the left pushes water down on the top of the rock behind and in front. I have it alternating 2 seconds in each direction at 10%, with 2 second ramp between during the day. At night it pulses forward for a second every I think 4 seconds. I can't have it run in one direction continuously as it would build up a vortex in the tank... Now that I have the higher flow return, maybe I'll try turning it off for some hours at night, we'll see.

 

Also, I moved the rocks around, since it was in the way and would have been shadowed by the pump. I actually like this arrangement better anyway.

 

Anyone think I am leaning a bit too much on the green right now? I think I need to look for some other colors when I'm ready to add something new...  

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A few updated shots taken with my phone, still came out pretty decent. The tank at 1 month!

 

Frogspawn Coral

 

IMG_6218.thumb.jpeg.a2214076400609979c4583ace20d4a6e.jpeg

 

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IMG_6222.thumb.jpeg.21879cccb2cabf54f31a665e9420deb5.jpeg

 

IMG_6223.thumb.jpeg.d560787382a31f6a14a504196ed1811a.jpeg

 

 

 

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Milwaukee MA887 Seawater Refractometer

 

This thing is great! It's simple to use and very accurate. Calibrating it involves just a few drops of distilled water (some of which comes in the box) on the sensor, press a button, wait 3 seconds or so, then dry off the sensor. That's it! Then you are ready to go.

 

Milwaukee MA887

 

To test, just grab a bit of water from your source in the supplied dropped and put about 3 drops on the sensor, hit the button, and it gives a reading in a second or two. No more holding a refractometer up to your eye, moving all around the room trying to get just the right light, adjusting the focus, calibrating with various solutions and a screw driver...I can't believe I put up with that for so long...

 

I also found out that my AccuraSea 35 ppt standard saltwater is 37 ppt (which is like 1.0285...evaporation, or was it always off?), which is scary. I tested it and recalibrated multiple times. The supplied 1.025 solution that also came with the Milwaukee reads right on. That means my tanks were a bit high. Nothing seemed overly stressed though, but I'm going to lower down to 34-35 where I normally keep them...or intended to keep them...

 

Anyway, I'm loving it so far!

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